5 Indian Caves That Are More Masterpiece Than Hole in The Wall
By Brittany Dismuke, on January 12, 2019
1. AJANTA CAVES
The monuments at Ajanta date back to the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, with additions made in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D. The caves are considered by UNESCO to be “masterpieces of Buddhist religious art.” The caves are surrounded by a gorge with a number of waterfalls and is situated in the side of a rocky cliff. Text records suggest that the caves were mostly used as a resting place for merchants and travelers and a monsoon retreat for monks.
2. ELEPHANTA CAVES
The island was named by the Portuguese in 1543, Elephanta, after the elephant statues they found there. Now called Gharapuri, meaning city of caves, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site located east of Mumbai. The magnificently carved temple caves are mostly dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva, although much of the artwork has been defaced, there is plenty to still be in awe of.
3. ELLORA CAVES
Dating from 600-100 CE, the Ellora Caves is one of the “largest rock-cut monastery-temple cave complexes in the world” and its Chariot shaped monument is the largest single monolithic rock excavation in the world. Like the Ajanta caves (and located within close proximity to), it served as a rest stop to travelers, as well as home to monasteries and temples. This site is home to over 100 caves carved into the basalt cliffs, although only 34 are open to the public.
4. MAHAKALI CAVES
Located within a suburb of Mumbai, the caves are open daily to visitors and the site is accessible via their metro system. This cave system consists of 19 caves total, but unlike the ornate masterpieces of other Indian caves, these caves are almost stark in comparison. Built more than 2,000 years ago it was used mostly as housing for monks and meditation.
5. TIGER CAVE
No live tigers reside at Tiger Cave, and the number of tigeresque carvings in the mouth of the cave itself are actually believed by scholars to be carvings of a mythical “yeli” (tiger lion hybrid). The spot is popular with tourists for picnics and other recreation. The location has a few refreshment areas surrounding it, so no need to pack your picnic before you head over!